Navy Memorial

This morning I saw a man on the map of the Navy Memorial. Even before I saw the items pinned to his cap, I assumed he was a veteran.

I work a stones throw away from the Navy Memorial. I see people stand on the world map, find D.C., draw and imaginary “X” on the ground, look at those they’re with and say

You are here.

Sometimes, they find where they left from and fly a line from there to where they stand. (It’s nice to know there are people from Idaho). Sometimes, the more spirited people break into song

…. top of the world….. looking…… down on creation….. and the only explanation I can FIND….

People do that thing they do. People run up the stairs while humming the tune of “Rocky” at the Philadelphia Art Museum, people repeat

Look kids, Big Ben, Parliament

while driving around the circle in London—or any circle for that matter. People do these things. People find the place in which they stand at the Navy War Memorial while a dark statue of a sailor stands there, bag at feet, and salutes us all. Constantly.

But not this man. He was alone and slightly unpredictable. He stood three feet from the statue and took a picture of the sailor with a throw away. He looked up for second and then down at the world. He looked toward the flags at Pennsylvania and then toward the fountain to watch one, wading duck. And I couldn’t help but compare the two.

(Low-ball glasses and two ice cubes. T.V. set with static and a bent antenna. No cable. The smell of dust, moisture and age. Dark wood. Old, non-ticking clocks, yellow stains settling onto off-white walls and bathroom fixtures. [Why is he here alone at 8 a.m.?] I check for a ring. There isn’t one. Perhaps the pins clinging to his baseball hat write his history).

What is it about some people and how they sweep me out of my own life for a few minutes? They don’t speak to me, they don’t even know I’m there most of the time. But somehow, whether it’s by way of an unconscious smell or just some quick visual flicker, there are people out there who I want to collect and serve mashed potatoes to (or maybe pancakes). I want to listen to whatever story is pinned to their head and I want them to use as much gravy (or syrup) as they wish. This man looked sadly content, just exiting or coming to or grasping something I will probably only understand much later on in life (if ever). And I’m sure he’s much wiser than I am, and I’m sure he knows better about how things really appear at night.

Perhaps it’s from a hormonal down. Perhaps the air decided I was feeling too elated today, that I began to forget about sadness and it needed to remind me. But something about this man made me feel sad today. And I hope he’s not alone on weekends and holidays.

Here are some pictures.


  1. Don’t take this the wrong way, but sometimes I think you’re in the wrong profession. You are much too caring and compassionate toward other people (and their bad clothing choices) to be in graphic design. ;)


  2. if my profession were tangible, I’d beat it like it were my wife.

    I got stuck here.


  3. Not that that’s a good thing…

    That sounds terrible.



  4. I have NEVER beaten my wife! Why would you?


  5. megan has a nice point. you’ve got the empathy and imagination of a (dern good) writer. :) like i always tell myself (who hasn’t bothered to write in a million years), T.S. Eliot worked in a bank. your normal life (job) stuff is feeding you.

    yeah, that was a colorful phrase. heh what does that mean in relation to your job? is that like “beat like a red headed step child”?

    p.s. don’t ride the grey line, they go (big, smokey) boom b/c the gas tank is too close to outer park of bus :P


  6. You know you’re never really stuck, right?

    I didn’t think I could move to Chicago , and I actually used the excuse, “I have too much furniture.” A friend said, “Megan, burn your furniture. Just go already.”

    My furniture really is hidious.

    The point is, don’t short change yourself.


  7. Debt sort of stuck me here. And I sometimes I start to despise myself for having it, creating it. I often think, if I didn’t owe money to some massive credit card corporation, what would I get up and just do?

    i would probably have begun my own firm, where I get to choose what I take and what I do.

    And issues like the color of Joe’s Great Aunt’s furniture, and how much he hates the fact I used that same color on the HTML email I created for a group of blind people in Alabama, would not matter any more, as they would no longer exist.


  8. that’s really beautiful. I sort of have something similar – I think- except, it doesn’t happen until way way later. Like with this man who LIVed in the weekly rate hotel I once stayed in while on a three month internship. He would always be sweeping the hallway when I left and give me handy tips and advice on life, like: “theres double coupons at the afeway on grant” and so on. People like that keep reappearing in my head every month or so. And I don’t know why, you’d tink the people wo made a significant role in my life would be reappearing so often, not bussdrivers, oddbal hallway sweepers andhomeless people. But then, what is significance anyway.


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